Understanding of Main Events and Complex Characters in Richard Wright's Black Boy

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SWBAT demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of Black Boy's main events and characters by annotating the text and using a story map.

Big Idea

How does Richard Wright bring the reader into his life's struggles as a young boy?


20 minutes

I begin by introducing the vocabulary words that I want students to be familiar with when reading chapter 1. I project the words on a screen using my docucamera and ask students to write each word in their journals.  I then ask students to "skim" the three pages of chapter 1 that they read during the previous lesson and if they see a vocabulary word to underline the word and any context clues that could help them define the word.as we define them by matching them to a definition.  

I then project the definitions on the screen and ask students to match the word with the definition based on context clues for words found in the first three pages.   Students are then given the correct definitions to write in their journals

Building Knowledge

15 minutes

I first review by explaining that unlike a fiction story or novel which can bring the reader to an imaginary world, Black Boy is an example of creative non-fiction, an autobiography which therefore puts into story the real world in which we live. I explain that non-fiction has the ability to convey truth and address real-world issues, events, people and concepts, some of which we have already begun discussing, i.e. racism. 

I also address some of the Elements of Non-Fiction by explaining that every piece of non-fiction has an author’s purpose: To provide information to the reader.

I explain and ask students to write in their journals these three reasons in which an author provides information:

  • to inform
  • to entertain
  • to persuade 

This is followed by a discussion on what inform, entertain and persuade the reader might mean .L.9-10.4.

I then pass out Story Map organizers giving the directions to answer each question in a short sentence for setting and character boxes. 



Student Learning Activity

40 minutes

Students are also given the Read Guide 1. Analyzing complex characters interactions is a requirement in literature standard RL.9-10.3 which I address in this autobiography.  In the Reading Guide I address this standard by asking students to find evidence of events and analyze character traits.  Students are asked to answer questions ifor both Reading Guide 1 and Story Map as they re-read the first pages in Chapter 1.

As students look for evidence, RI.9-10.1, to answer the questions,  I circulate among them asking additional questions and encourage them to write more than a few words - Reading Guides

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Summary Questions

Summarizing their learning is essential for understanding and retention. I first ask students to take turns describing either Mrs. Wright or Richard.  Students are also asked to share their answers to the irony in how Richard was treated by his parents when found hiding under the porch.

They are asked to bring their journal home to review the vocabulary words because they will be quizzed on their definitions the following day.